Relationships between Energy Development, Fish, Wildlife, and their Habitats
To facilitate responsible energy development while minimizing negative effects on wildlife, it is crucial to understand where energy development is occurring and how it affects wildlife. Some potential effects are habitat fragmentation or loss, invasions of non-native species, barriers along migration routes, altered predator communities, and degraded water quality. To help address these concerns, USGS scientists are (1) documenting wildlife distributions, population trends, habitat requirements, and seasonal movements, and (2) conducting research on how development influences the wildlife habitats, behaviors, reproduction, and survival.
In the WLCI region, energy development has been occurring in sagebrush steppe, mountain shrublands, and the watersheds of coldwater streams, which support many Wyoming Species of Greatest Conservation Concern. USGS research focuses on some of the highest-priority species:
Pygmy rabbit
Mule deer
Greater sage-grouse
Brewer’s sparrow
Sage sparrow
Sage thrasher
Colorado River cutthroat trout
Mottled sculpin
Mountain sucker
Decision-makers and resource managers in the WLCI region are using outcomes of this work to prioritize areas for habitat protection, management, or restoration while allowing energy development to progress. Examples of research products include:
maps of mule deer migration routes in relation to energy-development
pygmy rabbit habitat maps
models that identify characteristics of sage-grouse population strongholds
assessments of energy development effects on fish diversity and songbird nesting success